Thursday, February 18, 2010

2 years, 3 months

Dear Alli,

Your personality is forming at a rapid pace right now, and I'm really trying to take in all of the little nuances before they change.

Two of my portrait clients -- a couple I did holiday photos of a few months ago -- started reminiscing about their son when they found out I had a little one. We shared lots of stories, and despite the decades that separate us, we found we had a lot in common when it comes to experiences raising a child.

But one thing in particular stuck with me. They said age 3 was their mutual favorite because he was really starting to communicate, and they found the things he had to say nothing short of hilarious.

I know you just turned 2, but I think you're at that stage now, and I couldn't agree more.

You say the craziest things sometimes, sentences that leave me wondering where in the hell you got a particular idea, but it's so great getting a glimpse into that head of yours.

While Dad and I were manning our booth at a bridal expo last weekend, we got a text from Aunt Amy, who had taken you to church. During the children's message, the pastor asked each kid what they do to honor their mother and father. When she got to you, I'm told you said, "I DON'T HIT."

I laughed so hard because I instantly pictured you with your right hand up, index finger extended, punctuating each word with the gesture I often use to drive home a point.

Hilarious.

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One of the things I look forward to most is the first thing you'll tell me in the morning. More often than not, I say goodbye to you at 4 p.m. when I walk out the door for work, and I don't see you again until whenever you decide to wake me up the next morning. The rest of the night you spend with Dad, who often takes you to friend's houses, running errands or shopping because he needs to get out -- especially in the winter.

So every morning when I come into your room, I can't wait to hear what you'll blurt out. Sometimes it's simple: "DAD AND I PLAY TRAINS!" Other times you give me a glimpse of what you got in trouble for: "I CAN'T HIT TOBY." Or whose house you went to: "I SHARE WITH EMMA."

Either way, it always gives me such joy that you're able to share the parts of your day with me that I'm not around to spend with you.

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You've also honed your singing skills. Or maybe just your memorization skills. I'd say what you do can be loosely described as singing because it's rhythmic and sometimes even melodic, but more often than not, I'd describe it as shrieking.

You ask to sing lullabies constantly, but your favorites are Twinkle, Twinkle and the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

You've gotten so good at Twinkle, Twinkle that you can sing almost the entire song. I've memorized your rendition:

Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up the world so high
Like a dime in the sky

Wash, rinse, repeat. It's turned into your own version of The Song That Never Ends.

I hope to someday see a likeness of Franklin Deleno Roosevelt's profile in the stars. That's the closest one would get to looking like a dime.

One afternoon when we were making lunch, you started screaming something about wanting a microphone over a conversation Dad and I were trying to have. I'm sure most people would've thought you were crazy, but somehow my motherly instincts told me to look around.

Then I spotted it.

And handed you the turkey baster.

You thanked me and proceeded to dance around and sing. Now when you ask for the microphone I know it means, "Please hand me the turkey baster, Mom, and I'll entertain you while you make sandwiches."

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One of the hardest parts of your developing language skills is when you master a word that you previously misspoke or had a cute nickname for.

Dad and I have discussed this at length. Of course we want you to speak properly. We don't want to pat ourselves on the back too much, but one of the things we're most proud of is that you talk circles around other kids your age. I'm sure a lot of it is just that you're incredibly bright, but we work very hard prompting you to ask for things in a complete sentence, and phonetically break down words until you can put all of the syllables together on your own.

But at lunch a few weeks ago, you asked me to cut you another strawberry.

I looked up from my plate to see my exact expression mirrored on Dad's face.

You've always said "strawbee." We loved strawbee.

And just like that, it was gone.

Later that week, Dad dropped you off at Aunt Amy's house, and you ran in to greet Emily saying her entire name instead of just Emy. It shocked everyone in the room, including you. But you're so proud of your new skill that you've added "ily" to the end of everything.

Everything.

Momily. Dadily. Tobily. BunilyBearily. Gramily. Phoneily. Blanketily. Chairily. Milkily. Jumpily. Lightily. Couchily.

Thanks for giving us fun new additions to balance out the loss of the old ones.

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But perhaps my favorite verbal change this month is the way you answer a yes or no question.

Instead of "mmm hmm" or "uh huh," you've added a third syllable so it becomes "mmm hmm hmm" and "uh huh huh."

I'm sure most people wouldn't notice even if I alerted them to it because it's so subtle, but it's so consistent and you, that I can't help but smile every time you do it.

It's those unique things that make this experience of parenting so absolutely incredible.

When your dad and I were recently engaged, I remember stopping over at Grandma's house on my way to work to drop something off. It was summer, and she was down at the pool with your cousins Nate and Ben.

When I opened the pool gate, their entire demeanors changed. I knew the boys fairly well at that point, but it struck me so intensely that they sat up from their relaxed lounging on the swing. I wasn't a part of their inner circle yet.

And for that exact reason, I feel so privileged to be among the few people who get to see the real you every day.

Mmm hmm hmms and all.

Love,
Momily

8 comments:

Angela said...

Question:

If you do nerge the blogs, does that mean we won't get to share in the Alli blogs? I look forward to those the most. If I'm gonna lose those, then my vote is seperate blogs, even if you only do the Letters.

Ray said...

"And for that exact reason, I feel so privileged to be among the few people who get to see the real you every day.

Mmm hmm hmms and all."

^^I love that. ;o)

It is so amazing how Alli's communication skills are growing in leaps and bounds. It really is wonderful. She is an exceptionally bright little girl. I especially love how she adds, "ily"to every word. Too cute.

Anonymous said...

another fantastic letter. Even if you only post once a month with these, I'd still be a regular reader.

Cate said...

I feel the same way about my daughter--getting to see the "real her" day in and day out. She's almost 9 months old and still a little shy around strangers, and I feel so blessed to be able to enjoy her real personality all the time.

Heidi said...

The slinky picture is amazing!

jsi said...

I do miss when my young ones began speaking correctly. Dave and I never went out of our way to change "catbutch" or "renember" or the armfuls of other tender speaking. We still use them in our speaking to each other every once in a while, especially from our oldest daughter Abby. She didn't use her 'v' sound - it made her lips tickle. So when she wanted to express her superlative feelings, she was "berry mad" or "I berry no like that" or the absolute bestest "I berry berry love you daddy!"
Too bad they are as good at listening as they are at talking. It must have been a great surprise to know your home has strawberries in it.

Ray said...

Looking back at the added photos: That last one of the slinky/tunnel thing (??) is awesome! I love the colors. =o)

Kathy Hicks Walker from FB said...

I know how you feel about the change from babyspeak to correct usage. I really miss "frawberber" (Strawberry", "tooptape" (toothpaste), "paheeter" (computer) and his Ming Ming imitation "this is SEELIOUS, as SEELIOUS as it gets. My 2 favorites that he hasn't gotten past yet is CheeriROHS which he has for breakfast every morning & he calls Shane from the Upside Down Show "Shave"